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Do You Or Don't You

Do You Hold Sales Contests?

More than half of you don’t.

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Yes: 21%

  • We are about to do it in the new year. If they beat the sales of the corresponding month from the year before, everyone gets Starbucks or pizza. —Sherry Redwine, Odyssey Pets, Dallas, TX
  • When I am trying to grow a food line, staff is incentivized with a $5 to $10 cash spiff for each new customer they put on the food. We will use this for new food lines or when we are discontinuing a line and need to transition the customer. It’s amazing how fast a line grows when they are focusing on it along with getting bonuses to be on it. —Michelle Nelson, The Pet Authority, Albert Lea, MN
  • We have sales goals and contests in each of our stores and between all our stores. It keeps things interesting and helps our crew work towards our sales goals. —Nancy Guinn, Dog Krazy, Fredericksburg, VA
  • We set monthly profit goals in each of our profit centers, and bonus managers if goals are met. Would love some new ideas in this area. —Angela Pantalone, Wag Central, Stratford, CT
  • We usually focus on a category, that way we aren’t promoting a brand, but a solution. My team prefers food as their reward. —Michelle Pelletier, Bentley’s Pet Stuff, Grafton, WI
  • We’ve run various spiffs and sales growth contests. The challenge is to keep sales from dropping off after the additional incentive period ends. —Keefer Dickerson, Nashville Pet Products, Nashville, TN
  • Example: We bring in a new food …. Whoever sells the most food in the first month receives a gift card for gas/stuff. Whoever sells 5 pounds of a specific manufacturer gets $1. Every 15 pounds gets $3. Every 30 pounds gets $5. Biggest sale of the day gets a free lunch. —Debbie Fazica, Pet X Supply & Tack, Howell, MI
  • Every now and then we’ll give out lottery tickets. If an employee makes a sale over $50 (not including pet food), they get a $1 lottery ticket. If they make a sale over $100 (not including pet food), they get three $1 lottery tickets. It works out pretty well sometimes. They might win $5 or $10 once in awhile. We haven’t done it in awhile, and now that you made me think about it, we are going to bring it back in January, when sales are slow. —Diane Marcin, Benny’s Pet Depot, Mechanicsburg, PA
  • Simple: Beat the day, get a percentage of of the difference as a bonus. It keeps everyone hustling to make add-on sales and turning browsers into customers. —Doug Staley, Pet Palace of New City, New City, NY
  • Our most recent contest is not sales-based, but rather getting customers to sign up for our email. I gave the staff the option of winning either a $25 gift card or to have dinner with me at a local restaurant of their choice. When I announced it, I was both surprised and flattered that they all immediately opted for a dinner with the boss. Since launching the contest two weeks ago, I have had them sign up over 100 new customers! —Wendy Megyese, Muttigans, Emerald Isle, NC

No: 79%

  • We try to pay fairly and give back to our employees in ways that are not incentive based. It’s important to the brand of our store and for the overall customer experience that they don’t feel pressured to buy just anything — but rather they leave the store with what they need. Sometimes that may be a lower-priced item —the consumer always appreciates when we save them money, and they always come back when we do. Having sales incentives may skew that experience. —Johnna Devereaux, Fetch RI, Richmond, RI
  • We’re not a big “selling” store. We provide information on what we think is best for the customer. —Eric Mack, Purrrfect Bark, Columbus, NC
  • Most of my staff are just cashier-orientated. Not sales … unfortunately. —Janelle Pitula, Wags to Whiskers, Plainfield, IL
  • We don’t consider ourselves a store that “sells. “ We prefer to consider ourselves a store that helps solve problems. If a product is right for the customer, great, but if not, we want to make sure we’re not acting with a bias towards a product that is getting spiffed. —Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 11 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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Do You Or Don't You

When Pet Pros Donate, Here’s Where They Put Their Money

Do you donate to charities?

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Yes: 98%

  • We do all different forms such as money, products to local shelters, and groom dogs from shelters to get adopted. I decide mainly just off what hits close to home. — Taylor Gonzalez, Three Tails Parlor and Pantry, Columbia, IL
  • We used to just help any rescue or nonprofit that asked us, but after three years we have decided to support two or three nonprofits that are important to us. One we donate to year-round is not a dog-related charity at all. My niece has Rett Syndrome, and I am extremely passionate about raising awareness and funds to find a cure for this incredibly horrible disease. — Morgan Moses, Harley’s Bakery, Harrisonville, MO
  • We focus on children in need and pet rescues and service dogs. We have toys created and branded with our logo and donate $3 from each one to different charities. We have done “round up” to rescues, where customers can round up their change. We offer our employees paid time off to go and volunteer. — Lisa Senafe, Bentley’s Pet Stuff, Long Grove, IL
  • We donate services via a preloaded gift card. We only donate to charities within the local pet industry, with the exception of one local women’s shelter for domestic abuse. — Danielle Wilson, Bath & Biscuits, Granville, OH
  • We give gift cards, products and sometimes services, like a free self wash or nail trim. We give to 501c3 groups and try to ensure their focus and mission align with ours. We have a donation request form that covers all our rules and restrictions. — Jennifer Larsen, Firehouse Pet Shop, Wenatchee, WA
  • I look for grassroots non profits. Yes, we donate to charities outside of the pet industry. It is important to look after charities that resonate with me. — Alexis Butler, The Dog’s Meow, Salt Lake City, UT
  • We host a Yearly Fundraiser for Puppy Rescue Mission (Soldiers saving Puppies … Puppies saving Soldiers). This is the fourth year we have hosted this event. I also collect food for the local food bank. — Heather Campbell, Bow Wow & Woofs, Blaine, WA
  • I mainly chose to donate to pet-related, local charities. However, I have also donated to specific local charities if it aligns with our core principles. — Kimberly Barnes, New England Dog Biscuit, Salem, MA
  • We donate money to avian organizations, one local and one national. We work closely with the local zoo and give discounts for them. The local museums we help with the few birds that they have and also give presentations regularly. Presentations are also made to schools, libraries, Scout troops … at no cost. We do it as an informational thing and do not push the business aspect. — Paul Lewis, Birds Unlimited, Webster, NY
  • We have specific events like drawings for free services in order to donate money to Patriot Paws, a Texas organization that trains therapy dogs for military veterans. We also donate money for Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels to help the folks in our community. — Suzanne Locker, ABC Pet Resort & Spa, Willis, TX
  • Normally, we do product donations. Often, we will make gift baskets for raffles. We also donate close-dated and open food to local rescues. — Jess Smith, Chow Hound Pet Supplies-Standale, Walker, MI
  • I try to focus mainly on local pet-related charities and give in the form of hosting events (nail trimmings, photo days, etc.) where all of the proceeds go to the nonprofit. When I donate items, it’s usually gift certificates for the self-service dog wash, because there is less cost for me involved in that. I also try to donate to charity events if a regular customer is asking on their behalf. — Jennifer Silverberg, Fetch Pet Supplies, Springfield, MO
  • We donate product (dog and cat food) to the Family Promise organization in our county. This feeds the pets of the homeless. This takes all of our resources to achieve. We do take out advertisements in children’s programs in schools, but we take that out of our advertising budget. — Bonnie Bitondo, Maxwell & Molly’s Closet, Newton, NJ
  • We generally donate products to local charities, but we have held events where funds raised have been delivered to local rescue groups. We sometimes choose them by customer recommendations or because we’ve worked with the group before. If there is a charity that is in need and can benefit from what we have to offer, we will donate regardless of whether they are in the pet industry. — Johnna Devereaux, Fetch RI, Richmond, RI
  • I host fundraisers for several rescues that are in my area. There is great synergy when you work with these groups. They promote you in all their media and in-house. As a business, it shows you care about more than just your business. It’s a wonderful option to bring into your business if you don’t already have it in your business plan. — Kristina Robertson, Barkley Square Pets, Falls Church, VA
  • Cats n Dogs donates to pet charities in the form product and time. About six years ago we had to limit donations to pet only. Just can’t give to every organization that barks at your door. — Nancy Okun, Cats n Dogs, Port Charlotte, FL
  • We have chosen to only donate to organizations that benefit pets or a cause that our employees support and ask us to donate to. We often make gift baskets for raffles or will donate gift cards for our store. — Nicole Olesen, Woofs & Waves, Sioux Falls, SD
  • We foster with a rescue group and cover almost all of the costs of that. We also work closely with a nonprofit that works with domestic violence victims and provide a greatly discounted boarding rate and often cover some of the cost of food. We also donate to several other local animal-focused nonprofits or sponsor events they hold. — Myra Tsung, Camp Kitty, Decatur, GA
  • We are thrilled to be working with the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital as they have recently acquired their first service dog for patients receiving physical rehabilitation. We have provided their staff with tools and ideas to use with patient care. We also work with Jefferson’s thrift shop offering up our retailing expertise to help them grow. — Sue Hepner, Cool Dog Gear, Roslyn, PA
  • We groom dogs for the local shelter once a week, and we also groom dogs for rescue groups twice a month. We donate seasonal toys that are not sold during their season to the rescue groups. — Carlos Carrizo, Alta Pet Center, Upland, CA
  • I will donate to anyone who asks. Sometimes it is just something small, like a gift certificate for our self-serve wash and sometimes we have entire fundraising events for a single charity where we donate 20 percent of our sales for the day to the charity. — Michelle Nelson, The Pet Authority, Albert Lea, MN
  • We get lots of last-minute requests for support of local school and nonprofit sports organizations. I plan our budget a year in advance and let them know to come earlier next year. We try to support the elementary, middle and high schools closest to our location. We offer the opportunity for those seeking fundraising support to offer a dog wash. A group can offer a celebrity dog washer (mayor, football coach, newscaster, etc.) at a higher fee, and we give the entire amount of that extra service to the group. — Marcia Cram, Just Fur Pets, Springfield, VA
  • We donate to local rescues throughout the year through adoption events we have with them monthly. (We rotate rescues.) We also host two adopt-a-thons each year in our parking lot so any local rescue can come out, set up a booth and interact with the community. — Diane Marcin, Benny’s Pet Depot, Mechanicsburg, PA
  • Based on an incident that happened to me last year, I try to donate to GoFundMe causes, as I have realized just how important the funds are from needing the help myself. So many people came together to help me during my time of need — a lot of individuals that I’ve never even met — and I want to be there for others just as much. — Jen Kanzenbach, Beans ’N Bones, Green Bay, WI
  • There are so many nonprofit organizations that need and ask for donations that I had to have a clear focus so I wouldn’t give all my profits away. I focus on rescue groups, our local shelters and local schools. I give gift cards, gift baskets, participate in fundraisers, buy tickets, and the biggest and most rewarding was the sale of a 15 passenger airport shuttle bus with all proceeds going to the Willamette Humane Society and Salem Dogs. The bus was given to me, I got it running and sold with with the intention of donating the proceeds. — Terri Ellen, Nature’s Pet Market, Salem, OR
  • I make donations in multiple forms. The easiest are monetary donations, and donations of products. For example, a gift basket for a silent auction that contains a bag of treats a toy, and a branded item such as a magnet or sticker with our name and logo or store motto. I also always include a gift card, because that will encourage the recipient of the gift to come into the store. Honestly, these donations are not completely altruistic. We also donate our space and host adopt-a-thons and various fundraisers. The rarest donation I make is with my time, and I only do so with charities that I have a very strong connection to. — Wendy Megyese, Muttigans, Emerald Isle, NC
  • We donate products, gift certificates, plan events or participate in events to support our local SPCA, several selected smaller pet rescues and several community charities that are have nothing to do with dogs but gain a lot of visibility to our store. I choose dog related charities that have a mission I believe in… and that have large followers on their social media and are willing to promote or cross-promote events on their channels. I give for the joy of giving but it costs them nothing to give back by allowing our business to be mentioned to their followers. The charities outside the business I choose because I’m confident that the money actually goes to people who need it vs. paying corporate salaries. I also consider how visible they are to the community and their social media reach. My suppliers are great about letting me know if there are larger lots of pet food or supplies that are coming into past sell-by dates and I get a good deal on product which I can then donate to whoever is in need. We always count “per pound” and take pictures of our making the delivery. It makes a good promotion for our business. — Pattie Boden, Animal Connection, Charlottesville, VA

No: 2%

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Do You Or Don't You

Pet Businesses Divided on Tariffs’ Impacts

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Yes: 54%

  • It will impact pricing on some of our products, but just as important will be the effect of increased prices on everything else in our clients’ lives. MJ Hall, WOOF … cool stuff for dogs, Plano, TX
  • Some of the products I use are made in China. William Stewart, I Will Walk Boston, Boston, MA
  • We are looking for more made in the USA products. Diane Marcin, Benny’s Pet Depot, Mechanicsburg, PA
  • There are bound to be increase in wholesale costs since most of America is made in China these days. My cost will go up and I will pass that cost onto my clients only if I NEED to. Although I always prefer to shop local and USA made, this definitely makes me think twice before making my wholesale purchases. Leel Michelle, Bow Wow Beauty Shoppe, San Diego, CA
  • Many of our toys, etc. are made outside of the USA, as well as wallets, etc. We are already getting notices of raised prices due to tariffs. Michele A. Shahar, Bubbie’s Store, Las Vegas, NV
  • Not right now but eventually tariffs will affect most everything we use. The US doesn’t make everything we use/need. We import many items we use like vitamin C, spices, herbs. Nancy Okun, Cats n Dogs, Port Charlotte, FL
  • It may have a slight impact on toy and accessory costs but probably won’t affect us much. Russell Herman, Pet$aver Healthy Pet Superstore, Rochester, NY
  • I expect we will see some slower sales on some brands, but not by too much. At this point we are going to just roll with it and see what happens. Shane Somerville, Paddywack, Mill Creek, WA
  • I know that we will have to increase pricing on several hard goods due to the manufacturer price increases. I think customers expect prices to increase over time, but I think the large price increase will make them think that we are too expensive to shop and they may look elsewhere. It’ll be important for me to educate our staff on tariffs and create signage explaining the price increase since most customers have no idea why things are increasing so dramatically. Kara Holland, Pittsboro Pet Supply, Pittsboro, NC
  • So far it has affected the prices of metal cages. Unfortunately due to the volatility of the economy, we have had to take the increase on the chin, which has dipped into our profitability. It may eventually lead to us raising our prices. Doug Staley, Pet Palace of New City, New City, NY
  • Most of my stuff is USA made (all foods, treats, etc.), but obviously some toys/collars are made in China. If that’s the case, then I’ll find USA sources of items that would now be the same. I’m fine with them, as a healthier production in the USA is better for the USA economy. I realize I might very well be different than a lot of people on this subject, but we do rely on overseas manufacturing too much. Eric Mack, Purrrfect Bark, Columbus, NC
  • I’ve been informed by a couple of suppliers that prices are raising by as much as 25 percent in 2019. We’ll just have to shop around or raise prices. Carol Will, Lola & Penelope’s, Clayton, MO
  • I’m starting to see price increases on food earlier this year than usual, so I’m assuming the tariffs are having an effect on steel used in canning. I’m particularly worried about our foods from overseas and Canada, and have been in contact with our reps to stay abreast of the situation. I am looking at lower price margins on these foods so our customers don’t feel the entire brunt of the tariffs. Looking at the “stack it deep, sell it cheap” philosophy. James Henline, Asheville Pet Supply, Asheville, NC

No: 46%

  • Price increases are inevitable so I think it will just be seen as that. That said, I do think that very low priced (cheap) products will be less attractive. Dani Edgerton, Paws on Main, Columbiana, OH
  • As almost all of my products are U.S.-sourced and made, tariffs are not a major factor for us. Duane Poland, Bones-n-Scones of Palm Springs, Palm Springs, CA
  • It’s not the import taxes, but the new minimum wage laws that are going in. In Minneapolis and St. Paul, it is going up to $15 an hour. We already start above minimum wage, but it affects everyone. That is much worse than import taxes. Keth Miller, Bubbly Paws, Minneapolis, MN

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Do You Or Don't You

Two Strategies to Deal with Internet Competition: Upping Service, Offering Delivery

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This month’s question: Have you changed your strategy to deal with internet competition?

Yes: 46%

  • Online sales plus local delivery. We also are utilizing the Endless Aisles platform from Phillips for customer retention when we are out of stock on items and need to get something to the customer next day. Penny Jones-Napier, The Big Bad Woof, Washington, DC
  • I’ve used tips on maximizing results from Google, website SEO and Instagram. Also making a larger presence in the community. Melanie Haynes, Space Coast Pet Services, Rockledge, FL
  • We offer home delivery for $4.95 within 10 miles; free over $79. We don’t price-match, but we do remain competitive on certain brands we need to. Eric Mack, Purrrfect Bark, Columbus, NC
  • I recently changed our delivery charge and minimum order amount. We are competitively priced and had a minimum delivery of $25, I recently changed that to be $30 and below $45 is an energy surcharge of $3. Not one client has complained and it has helped us stay competitive. Since Chewy and others are at a $49 for free home delivery I decided we didn’t need to give away our service. Debbie Brookham, Furry Friends Inc., Colorado Springs, CO
  • We are adding online sales to our website. Danielle Chandler, Lewis & Bark’s Outpost, Red Lodge, MT
  • We added more services the internet competitors can’t provide, like a new self serve dog- wash and a treat bar. Pattie Boden, Animal Connection, Charlottesville, VA
  • We have a hyper focus on creating an in-store shopping experience and events. Mike Murray, Bonnie’s Barkery, Phoenix, AZ
  • We’re making sure to have signage that shows the benefits, like the highlights you might see when shopping online. Annabell Bivens, The Dog Store, Alexandria, VA
  • We upped the bar with service, price-matching and in-store events. My business is up, so whatever I’m doing, it must be working, so I am staying the course. Toni Shelaske, Healthy Pet Products, Pittsburgh, PA
  • We have made our return policy more user-friendly, trying to avoid causing people to look around at where else they could shop. I think it has gone well. Returns are smoother and more cheerful on both sides. Connie Roller, The Feed Bag Pet Supply, Grafton, WI
  • We are adding all our inventory to our online store, and we offer free shipping for over $99. We are also adding a lot more features to the customer’s online shopping experience to set us apart from the other online stores. Every day we wake up to more and more online orders. Lots more kibble and cans being shipped and orders over $100. Nancy Guinn, Dog Krazy, Fredericksburg, VA
  • The experience of shopping in our stores has to be worth it. In our marketing, I focus on anything our stores deliver that the internet can’t. Internet sites can’t match our team. They’re the best! Keefer Dickerson, Nashville Pet Products, Nashville, TN
  • When it comes to internet prices, obviously I cannot compete. I’m a small local neighborhood business trying to offer my clients the best of quality foods and products. So I decided to lower my prices in general. I’m not as cheap as the internet but reasonable. Because of that, I do not offer points or sales since my prices are always reasonable. It’s working well and my clients appreciate it as well. Ursula Sanchez, Bucktown Bow & Meow Pet Spa, Chicago, IL
  • I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on. I’m seeking out companies that only sell to independent pet stores. Danielle Wilson, Bath & Biscuits, Granville, OH
  • My competitive advantage is our high-touch customer service and response rate. Our strategy for managing internet competition is a mix of personal touch in each home as well as an education piece. We use our blog to advertise our value and or difference from online tech companies like Rover.com and Wag. Julia Rohan, Rover-Time Dog Walking & Pet Sitting, Chicago, IL
  • I have regrouped what we carry in store. We have bulked up on big sellers, unique things specialty items you can’t find locally. For example we have avian flight suits. We are the only ones that carry them in our area. Sal Salafia, Exotic Pet Birds Inc., Webster, NY

No: 54%

  • Our strengths are customer service and product education. We have good support from the manufacturers. We provide frequent-buyer programs, coupons and specials. We offer a generous reward program. Donna Trill, Healthy Pets NW, Portland, OR
  • I also provide dog grooming services, so I encourage treats or at home sprays to the sales ticket. Recently, I have created a rewards program and am ready to implement it during customer appreciation month. Rachel Malmfeldt, Pampered Pups Grooming, Joliet, IL
  • We offer services; retail is only about 15 percent of my business. I train my staff in canine nutrition so they can answer questions and make recommendations based on what the customer’s dog needs and not what’s a new product on the shelf. Marcia Cram, Just Fur Pets, Springfield, VA
  • In many ways, we simply can’t compete with internet competition, and we don’t want to alienate the customers who do their shopping online — especially since we use it for ourselves. We kind of think of it like the Miracle on 34th Street thing: We simply cannot carry everything in our stores, and we’re more than happy to point people to the place in town or online that might have what they’re looking for. We can’t be all things to all people, but we can be as helpful as possible. Kris Minkle, The Whole Pet, Fort Smith, AR

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 edition of PETS+.   

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

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